There’s certainly no dull moment in the central London property market; currently buyers are passing added buying costs such as stamp duty back to vendors, some vendors are pricing realistically and selling whilst others continue to stand their ground. One thing for certain, is the increased levels of buyers in the market looking for ‘Brexit bargains’. Concentrated levels of interest can be found sub £1.5m, where stamp duty rates are lower, but I think any agent or property professional would agree that there has been an increase in levels of activity across the market. According to data provider LonRes, some notable recent transactions include a Notting Hill townhouse in Arundel Gardens for £10m (£2,247/sqft), a penthouse on Portland Place for £17,950,000 (£2,441/sqft) and an Adam’s townhouse on Portland Place, in Marylebone, for £14.5m (£1,389/sqft), a development opportunity.
Developers are confident: luxury property developer Finchatton has just unveiled £150m of apartments for sale in Hans Place in Knightsbridge. Another developer, Almacantar, known for redeveloping the iconic Centre Point tower in the West End, has released a new mixed-use scheme called Marble Arch Place. It’s reported they have already achieved £7,000 per square foot on a 10, 000 square foot apartment with views over Hyde Park, among other sales.
Brexit: Article 50 and the effect on the London property market
The effect on Britain’s housing market will largely depend on the speed and success of the negotiations. Last year’s vote to leave the EU contributed to significant uncertainty in the London property market, resulting in house price growth to slow and a decline in transaction levels. It is, however, fair to say we could expect activity levels to pick up once negotiations are underway. 43% of Londoners think the average cost of buying a home in the UK will increase because of the country’s exit from the European Union, according to YouGov research, commissioned by Equifax.
The triggering of Article 50 is a major landmark on the Brexit timeline so we should expect the property market to get a boost of stability, encouraging buyers to get on with their lives. Low levels of transactions and pent up demand from last year should now equate to increased demand and transactions. With confidence returning, sellers are already demanding higher prices. If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt over the past two years, it’s that the property market is heavily reliant on confidence. Article 50 should come as a sigh of relief as the Government finally provides certainty that it’s plan for leaving the EU cannot be derailed.
With all events like this, there are always a few buyers and investors that sit and wait to see if anything changes, but the smart money continues to invest in central London, especially overseas buyers making the most of the weakened pound and the rare discounts this is providing.
Candy’s CPC group’s new Holland Park scheme
Christian Candy’s group, CPC, has now been awarded planning for a 24-unit Holland Park villa scheme. The planning granted is to turn a seven-storey mansion block, called Duke’s Lodge, into five stately villas housing 24 high-spec apartments. The plan has not gone unhitched, in 2015 CPC were rejected a double basement by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Local Holland Park residents including Queen guitarist Brian May have objected to the developer’s traffic management plan suggesting there could be up to 80 lorry visits a day to and from the construction site and 32,500 over two and a half years.
Interestingly, Duke’s lodge is a ghostly building with no residents. In 2014, 12 long-term residents were each paid an average of £1 million by the then owners of the building, Liverpool Victoria. The money bought out their old protected tenancy rights, turning all the residents into short-term renters who could be told to vacate their homes at relatively short notice. New contracts were signed and guards stood in the lobby preventing any ‘accidental’ return. Later it became clear that the residents were the latest victims to a falling domino in a process that has seen the capital’s house prices soar, while Kensington and Chelsea’s population has dwindled. The £12 million pay-offs and allied security operation cleared the way for the sale, with Christian Candy’s Guernsey-based CPC Group thought to have paid £50 million – around £10 million above the initial price.